Lord Indra - King of the Devas
Lord Indra Depicting as the wielder of the Thunderbolt riding on Vahana Airavata and defeating Vrtra.
In Hinduism, there are around infinite numbers of Gods and Goddess excluding Three Trinity Deity, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Brahma. Among these gods, Lord Indra is considered as the King of Gods and the ruler of Heavens. Lord Indra is known as Sakra in Vedas and is the Deva who holds the power of Rain and thunderstorms. Being the Deva of Rain and Thunderstorms, Lord Indra wields the Lightning Thunderbolt which is known as Vajra in Hindu scriptures. Lord Indra is depicted riding on the celestial White Elephant called Airavata. Airavata Elephant is known as Vahana of Lord Indra and there are Vahana of all the gods.
Lord Indra is believed to be the son of Dyaus and Goddess Savasi and Indra is believed to be resided on Mount Meru that lies in the heaven. Lord Indra is called by many names Hindu Religion such as “Vrsan The Mighty”, “Vrtrahan, Slayer of Vrtra”, “Devapati, lord of Devas” and so on. He was known as National God for Arya Tribe. It is believed that Lord Indra protects Aryas and blessed with Military Aristocracy and the Kshatriyas Warriors. Lord Indra became one of the important figures in Hinduism, Vedic religion, and Buddhism especially Chinese Buddhism, Chan Tradition.
According to Hindu Myths , Indra was born from the mouth of primordial God or ancient Early God (Giant Purusha) along with his brother Agni . It is also believed that other gods of Hindu Patheon from various body parts of Giant Purusha. Later, Lord Indra sits on the seated Throne within the clouds of Svarga or so-called Third Heaven .
In Rigveda , it is stated that
“He under whose supreme control are horses, all chariots, the villages, and cattle;
He who gave being to the Sun and Morning, who leads the waters, He, O men, is Indra.”
In Rigveda , Lord Indra is one of the mighty gods along with Varuna and Mitra . He was referred as Sakra, the mighty one since he defeated Vrtra, Panis , liberating the rivers and imprisoned cows. He is also known as the God of War.
Lord Indra is mostly depicted as the Lord Indra riding Airavata and holding vajra as well as the bow which is Rainbow (As shown in Figure). He is also shown holding the bow, a net and a hook. The thunderbolt of Lord Indra, one of the most powerful weapons in Hindu religion, is known as Bhaudhara. In early ages before Vedic, Celestial Vahana of Indra, Airavata was depicted as four tusked Elephant carrying Lord Indra and his wife, Shachi . According to Hindu religion, Indra was married to Shachi , Indrani or Pulomaja . Shachi is mostly depicted with Lord Indra riding Airavata.
14 Indras in 14 Manu
According to Markandey Puran , each Manu rules or Kalpa has 1 Indra. It is also stated that there are 14 Manu period and 14 forms of Lord Indra. They are:
- Svayambhuva – Yajna
- Swarochich – Vipaschit
- Uttam – Sushaanti
- Taamas – Shibi
- Raivat – Vibhu
- Chaakshush – Manojav
- Shraaddhdev – Purandar (Present Lord Indra)
- Savarni – Bali
- Dakshya Saavarni – Adbhut
- Brahma Saavarni – Shanti
- Dharma Saavarni – Vish
- Rudraputra Saavarni – Ritudhaama
- Ruchi (Deva Saavarni) - Devaspati
- Bhaum (Indra Saavarni) – Suchi
Indra in Buddhism
Indra is also one of the important figures in Buddhist Myths . According to Buddhist Cosmology , Indra is the ruler of the Trayastrimsa Heaven and known by the name of Sakra or Sakka . The myth of Indra in Vedic and Buddhism is very different. It is stated that
“Sakka and Indra are independent conceptions. None of the personal characters of Sakka resembles that of Indra.”
Sakka is known by the name “ Dishitian or Shiti Huanyin ” in Chinese Buddhism and “Taidhakuten” in Japanese Buddhism . It is considered that Indra is associated with Vajrapani , Defender and Protector of Dharma, The Buddha and Sangha.